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Gallery visitors can't get enough of the Queen

The portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by artist Ralph Heimans currently at the National Portrait Gallery.

The portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by artist Ralph Heimans currently at the National Portrait Gallery. Photo: Melissa Adams

The Queen's diamond jubilee portrait by Australian artist Ralph Heimans has become the single most popular painting shown at the National Portrait Gallery.

About 100,000 people have seen the sweeping image of the Queen at Westminster Abbey since it was unveiled in September last year.

It has become the most asked after portrait at the gallery and the most commented upon work hung there, gallery spokesman Tim Langford has said.

It will be on display until the end of March and will then travel to its new home in London.

Heimans, who was at the gallery on Thursday, said he could not disclose where it would be displayed but the venue would become the new owner of the artwork.

''This is the only gallery where it will be shown in Australia,'' he said.

Heimans said he had wanted to depart from other royal portraits by creating a clear sense of emotion in the work.

''I was the only artist granted a sitting in the diamond jubilee year, which I think must say something about the Queen's fondness for Australia,'' he said.

''I think the fact it was a submission from Australia had a lot to do with the acceptance of the proposal. We [the Queen and I] spoke about Australia and how the painting would be on display here in the National Portrait Gallery.

''I spoke about my concept for the painting and I explained to her where she would be standing and the reason and she was well aware of the significance of it.''

Heimans said his work had a strong narrative and was laden with symbolism. ''I am inviting the viewer to imagine what she may be thinking or feeling on reflecting on the past 60 years,'' he said.

''It is a very contemplative and reflective mood.''

The painting's official title is The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2012.

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